The Princess Spy:
Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan

Noor's Historical Background: Her ancestors

A.  Haidar Ali Khan (1722 - 82)

For about two hundred years, both the British and French coveted control of India's riches of spice, textiles, and other exotic products.  The European countries continuously fought each other for control of the European trade in the area, but British military victories in 1757 and 1760 basically answered the question in favor of the British.  At the same time, the Mughal Empire had ruled most of northern India for centuries, but by the beginning of the 18th century, the Mughal Empire had started to collapse as a result of more or less constant war with Great Britain.  The southern regions of India, including an area known as Mysore, were controlled by a Hindu dynasty which had ruled for centuries.  One of the last Mughal rulers, a man by the name of Haidar Ali Khan, conquered Mysore as part of his attempt at rebuilding his empire.  This ended the long Hindu control of Mysore.  For the next 38 years and a couple generations, the Mysore region would be ruled by Haidar Ali Khan and his son Tipu Sultan.  Of course, Haidar Ali Khan was not happy with giving up  most of northern India to the British, so he began to fight the British in what became known as the Mysore wars.  The British viewed the Mysore wars as an opportunity to gain complete control of India and thereby secure all of the Indian trade for themselves.
Haidar Ali Khan 

Haidar represents opposition to British imperialism in India.  This opposition was important for India's eventual drive for independence much later on.  Haidar Ali Khan fought the British before he finally died in 1782 leaving the throne, and the war with the British, to his son Tipu Sultan.

B.  The Tiger of Mysore: Tipu Sultan (1749 - 99)

Tipu Sultan inherited the wars with the British.  He was not about to back down from the challenge.  Tipu was known as a Tiger.  Tipu soon took the Tiger as his own personal symbol.  He became known as the "The Tiger of Mysore."
The Tiger of Mysore: Tipu Sultan

Tipu was not able to turn the tide of the wars.  After ten years of war with the British, Tipu signed a peace treaty with the British in 1792.  The treaty soon fell apart, and once again Tipu wanted to expel the British from Indian soil.  Tipu sought the help of the French, most notably from a young General Napoleon Bonaparte, for his wars against the British.  France was a natural ally of Tipu, and the French desired to see India free itself of Great Britain, but the French mainly helped  Tipu with moral and token support.  The French sent about 120 troops as a token force to help Tipu Sultan.  The British responded with a much greater force.  Tipu Sultan was driven from his main palace to the island fortress of Seringapatam just north of the city of Mysore.  There Tipu made his last stand.  The final battle reminds people of the battle which occurred later at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.  The defenders, such as Tipu Sultan, made a valiant last stand but were utterly crushed in the end.  The British easily defeated their enemies that day.  By 1819, India was part of the British Empire.      

There are two reasons why Haidar Ali Khan and his son Tipu Sultan were important.  First, they were the ancestors of Pir Zadi Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan, or Princess Noor, the subject of this website.  Tipu Sultan was Noor's great-great-great grandfather.  The lineage is not extremely well documented, but enough evidence does exist to seem to prove the claim.  See the chart shown at the bottom of this page.  The importance of this connection proves the royalty of Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan.  She indeed was a princess.

The other reason Haidar Ali Khan and Tipu Sultan are important focuses on their involvement with the British and French empires. Haidar Ali Khan and his son Tipu Sultan both fought wars against the British.  In all, they fought four different wars trying to free Mysore and the rest of India from Great Britain's control.  Clearly, they were champions of Mysore, and thereby Indian, independence from Great Britain.  This fact caused some concern for British officals when Noor wanted to join the British armed forces.  She was the descendant of strongly anti-British warriors.  It would make sense she favored Indian independence.  What were her motives?  Did she really want to fight for the British, or was she trying to become a double agent in an effort to help the cause of Indian independence?  

C.  Tipu's son, Tipu II, and the lineage to Noor

The lineage from Tipu Sultan to Noor was fairly involved and not extremely well documented.  The accepted list of names appears on the chart shown below.  The direct line goes through a daughter.  The greatness of the family was not enhanced tremendously during this period.  There were few accomplishments and lots of moving from one place to another.  It was not until Hazrat Inayat Khan, Noor's father, came along that the family regained some measure of prestige.  Most of his prestige came from the fact that he was a Sufi mystic and his wisdom was in demand around the world.

Chart showing lineage
Noor's Family Tree:  A chart of Khan generations

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